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Cuban Press: Exercise Guide, Pro Tips, Benefits & Mistakes To Avoid

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Have you ever heard of the Cuban press?

No, it's not about newspapers or tropical vacations—it's a cool exercise that can seriously level up your shoulder game.

If you're tired of the same old shoulder presses and want to spice up your workout routine, you're in for a treat.

This blog post will be all about the Cuban Press, breaking down the steps to nail this exercise with ease, the pro tips, mistakes to avoid, and much more.

So, stick around to discover how the Cuban Press can help you build stronger, more mobile shoulders:

What is Cuban Press?

The Cuban Press, also known as the Cuban Rotation or the Rotational Shoulder Press, is a compound exercise primarily targeting the shoulders, particularly the deltoid muscles.

It's a variation of the traditional shoulder press that involves a rotational movement, engaging more muscle groups and providing a broader range of motion.

How To Do The Cuban Press?

Here’s your detailed step-by-step guide on how to perform the Cuban press:

Starting Position

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent for stability.
  • Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing down, and the barbell should rest across the front of your thighs.
  • Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and core engaged throughout the exercise to maintain stability.

Upright Row

  • Begin the movement by lifting the barbell towards your chest, leading with your elbows.
  • Keep the barbell close to your body as you raise it, and focus on pulling with your shoulders rather than your arms.
  • Aim to bring the barbell up to about chest level, or just below your chin, while keeping your elbows higher than your wrists.


  • Once the barbell reaches chest level, rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing forward (away from your body).
  • This rotation is essential for the Cuban Press and distinguishes it from a regular shoulder press.
  • As you rotate your wrists, imagine the movement as if you were pouring water out of a jug, with your palms facing forward and your elbows pointing up.

Overhead Press

  • After rotating your wrists, press the barbell overhead until your arms are fully extended.
  • Keep your core tight and maintain a neutral spine throughout this movement to prevent overarching your lower back.
  • Fully extend your arms at the top of the movement without locking out your elbows.

Reverse Rotation

  • Once the barbell is overhead, reverse the wrist rotation so that your palms are facing each other again.
  • Lower the barbell back down to the starting position in a controlled manner, reversing the movement pattern.
  • As you lower the barbell, maintain tension in your shoulders and control the descent to work the muscles eccentrically.


  • Complete the desired number of repetitions, typically 8-12 reps per set for muscle growth and strength development.
  • Focus on maintaining proper form throughout the exercise, especially during the rotation phases.

Cuban Press Tips & Tricks

Let’s take a look at the best possible tips for doing Cuban press like a pro:

1.      Start Light

Begin with a lighter weight than you would use for traditional shoulder presses.

The rotational aspect of the Cuban Press can make the exercise more challenging, so it's essential to master the technique with lighter weights before increasing the load.

2.      Focus on Form

Proper form is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of the Cuban Press and reducing the risk of injury.

Pay attention to your posture, wrist rotation, and range of motion throughout the exercise.

3.      Rotate Wrists Fully

Ensure that you fully rotate your wrists during the press portion of the movement so that your palms face forward at the top of the lift.

This rotation is essential for fully engaging the shoulders and targeting different muscle fibers.

What Are The Benefits Of Cuban Press?

Here is a list of benefits that are associated with Cuban press:

1.      Stronger Shoulders

The Cuban Press targets various muscles in your shoulders, including the deltoids, which are responsible for lifting your arms overhead.

By working these muscles with the Cuban Press, you'll build strength that can help you perform daily tasks more easily, like lifting objects or reaching for items on high shelves.

2.      Improved Shoulder Mobility

Shoulder mobility refers to the ability to move your shoulders through a full range of motion without discomfort or restriction.

The rotational aspect of the Cuban Press helps to loosen up tight muscles and ligaments around the shoulders, improving flexibility and making movements like reaching overhead or behind your back more comfortable.

3.      Better Posture

Strong shoulders play a crucial role in maintaining good posture.

By strengthening the muscles that support your shoulder blades and upper back, the Cuban Press can help you stand taller and straighter, reducing the likelihood of slouching or rounding your shoulders forward.

4.      Engages Multiple Muscles

While the Cuban Press primarily focuses on the shoulders, it also recruits other muscles to assist in the movement.

Your traps (trapezius muscles), located in the upper back and neck, help stabilize your shoulder blades during the exercise.

Additionally, your triceps (back of the arms) and core muscles work to stabilize your body throughout the movement, providing a more comprehensive upper body workout.

Cuban Press Mistakes (to avoid)

If you’re new to Cuban press, try avoiding the following mistakes:

·         Using Too Much Weight

One of the most common Cuban press mistakes is using too heavy of a weight, which can compromise form and increase the risk of injury.

Start with a lighter weight and focus on proper technique before gradually increasing the load.

·         Neglecting Core Engagement

Your core muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing your body during the Cuban Press. Failing to engage your core can lead to instability and increase the risk of injury.

Keep your core tight throughout the exercise.

·         Not Using Proper Gripping Technique

Gripping the barbell incorrectly can lead to wrist discomfort or injury.

Ensure that your grip is secure and that your wrists are aligned with your forearms throughout the movement.

·         Lack of Control

Rushing through the exercise and using momentum to lift the weight can compromise form and decrease the exercise's effectiveness.

Focus on controlling the weight throughout the entire range of motion.

Final Verdict

The Cuban Press might sound fancy, but it's a simple yet effective exercise to strengthen your shoulders and improve your overall upper body mobility.

Remember to start light, focus on form, and engage that core.

So, next time you hit the gym or prefer working out in your own space, try the Cuban Press.

Who knows, you might just fall in love with this underrated exercise.